Black History Month 2019 - Everything Old Is New Again

Black History Month 2019 - Everything Old Is New Again

Every year, the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH) sets a new theme for Black History Month and continues that theme throughout the year. 2019 is the year of reflecting on the Great Migration - the 50 years that saw over 6 million Black people leave the South for the social and economic opportunities the North had to offer. And with the opportunity to better understand the history of our past, we can also use it to help us interpret some of the important trends we are seeing today...what some are calling the “Reverse Great Migration.”

Going Beyond Indigenous People’s Day and Thanksgiving

Going Beyond Indigenous People’s Day and Thanksgiving

October and November bring us the holidays of Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. Two moments on the calendar that require us to reckon with the way Native people have been treated historically and how we retell that history in the present day. Often times parents find these holidays as their first opportunities to reflect on how to address Native American history and learn more about tribes today. This time of year offers the chance to highlight a counter narrative that Native people are not static - confined to a time in place in history - but dynamic, and very much present and facing oppression today.

Yet confining them to October/November goes to further perpetuate Native people only being present in a specific time - instead of seeing them all around us, all of the time. (And here I am doing just that. I recognize the hypocrisy here, and also firmly believe that today is a great day to start a new pattern of noticing Native voices. #joinme!)

Because we do see Native People everywhere - we just haven’t been taught to recognize their presence. Many states and cities in the United States get their names from the tribes that used to inhabit that land, even Missouri (from the Missouria tribe, present day Ote-Missouria tribe) and Illinois (from the Illini tribe, present day Peoria tribe)! There is so much history that we can be learning about year-round.


Voting Rights and Representation, Then and Now

Voting Rights and Representation, Then and Now

We have less than a month to go until election day. Present in this campaign season are issues that have plagued our nation for centuries: racism, populism, immigration, inclusion and representation among others.

Embedded in every advertisement, news article, and speech are the questions - Who are we as a nation? How does our past intersect with our promise? What is the meaning of democracy?

As children, we’re taught a fairly simplistic version of democracy - a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting. This simple framework can, at an early age, help bestow the power of the vote. American children are told: your vote counts.

But our nation's history is more complicated. READ MORE HERE.

Parenting in a Time of Protest, Part 1

Parenting in a Time of Protest, Part 1

Recent events in our community have brought conversations about protest back into the spotlight for many people and families in our region. We have found it valuable and important to use this opportunity to expand the conversation about protest in general. We share these points in hopes that they help to add to the narrative of your family conversations.

1. Protest is Part of Our National Identity – and Always Has Been
Protest has been a part of our national fabric and national identity from the very beginning. Specific acts of protest, from the Boston Tea Party on, lead to the very creation of our nation. Protests have continued to be a part of every single social change and advancement across our national history, including civil rights. Our founding fathers protected the act of protest by including these two important rights in our constitution: the right to “peaceably assemble” and the right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.” more here

Expanding Our Understanding of Belonging

Expanding Our Understanding of Belonging

Current events, rhetoric and the immigration ban in particular have placed an outsized and urgent focus on concepts of American-ism and belonging. As you talk to your children about what is happening in our country, we encourage you to continue to consider:

How are we a part of the story?

{Family Conversation Questions} 

  • What is your own family’s history? When and how did you become American?
  • How, as ONE OF MANY stories of America, does your family’s story differ from others?
  • What do our ideals and values say about who we could be as a country?
  • Where do we as a country fall short of these values?
  • How might your family contribute to an America that is welcoming, inclusive, and honors the pain and promise of our histories of immigration and belonging?


Seeing Native People As Diverse and Present

Seeing Native People As Diverse and Present

Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday. While it provides us much needed time to focus on themes of family and gratitude and it also surfaces many problematic narratives related to our history and particularly our treatment of Native American/American Indian people. Much of the dialog and storytelling positions Native people as extinct and historical. Many of the crafts and images offer a very narrow and often stereotypical depiction. And most of the stories reposition “pilgrims” as co-originators/planners of the “original” Thanksgiving feast. Rarely are accurate stories told. Rarely are diverse and multiple portrayals of Native people shared. And rarely is the story of Thanksgiving connected to the present, and in particular, to present day people.

This poses a significant challenge. How can we, in a meaningful way, re-orient the Pilgrim/Indian construction paper pageantry without getting overwhelmed by despair at the depth of our country's fraught history or current challenges?

A lot of research and reading has led us to believe that the most damaging myth we can perpetuate is that Native Americans are all “dead and buried.” So with that in mind we have chosen to push against this myth by highlighting stories and resources that feature Native American children and families set in the present day.


Consider With Your Children:
Our invitation to you is to first, open up a conversation about what your children know about Native people and second, enhance their current knowledge in ways that help reinforce that Native Americans are PRESENT and DIVERSE. There are many resources below to help support this and the books for this month were selected with this in mind.


Talking to Kids About Protesting: 5 Things I Want My Kids to Know

Talking to Kids About Protesting: 5 Things I Want My Kids to Know

As the protests continue in Charlotte, NC we are seeing the familiar and racially biased messages about protesting surface again. Many have critiqued our media reporting and our national conversation on protesting, pointing out the disparities in language and escalation tactics that are used depending upon the race of the protestors. As a parent, I’m particularly mindful of the potency of the words and images that are widely shared at a time like this. They are impossible to escape.

Instead of shielding my children from these images and conversations I seek to both:

Point out that the way these protestors are treated and talked about is different because of the color of their skin AND expand our conversation and narrative about the act of protesting.                                                 

Here are the things that I want my kids to know

The DNC In Children’s Books: A Reading List for Kids of Today

The DNC In Children’s Books: A Reading List for Kids of Today

This line of work has made me start to see the world through the lens of children’s books. I’ve always been a big fan and love reading to my children, but now children’s books are constantly creeping into my mind even when I’m not on mom duty.

This week’s Democratic National Convention was something to behold in terms of the stories, hopes, and histories shared. As I watched I couldn’t help but be reminded of the many similar-themed books in the We Stories library. I know many parents invited their children to watch alongside them this week. If you’re looking to continue those family conversations I pulled together these selections as a starting point, picking up on several of the themes from the speeches this week.


Where to Start: 12 Small Steps for White Families who Want to Be a Positive Force for Change on Racism

Where to Start: 12 Small Steps for White Families who Want to Be a Positive Force for Change on Racism

How do we move forward in the midst of overwhelming despair, pain, loss, tragedy and fear?

Together. With one eye on the past, and the other on the future.

Part of We Stories’ philosophy is that progress, even in the face of huge problems, is about taking small steps. These little shifts help make what is possible more likely, and help reinforce the good work that is already happening all around us.

Here are several things that you can DO TODAY to start being a part of the solution.

Accept that colorblindness doesn’t work

It doesn’t make us a more accepting society. It, as it promises, makes us more BLIND to each other’s reality, pain, and promise. A philosophy of colorblindness leaves us ill-equipped to understand and participate in the beautifully diverse society we inhabit.

1. Read: 7 Reasons that Colorblindness Contributes to Racism Instead of Solves it
2. Read: What we know about kids and race

Start talking to your kids about race and racism EARLY and OFTEN

Children’s books are the BEST way to help establish language for talking about skin color and race with your children.

3. Make these 4 favorites part of your home library.

Shades of People
The Skin You Live In
All the Colors We Are
Let’s Talk About Race